Risks in the online world have increased: Ritesh Chopra, director, Sales & Field Marketing, NortonLifeLock | #socialmedia

RITESH CHOPRA, Director Sales & Field Marketing, India & Saarc Countries, Norton Lifelock

We are in the second year of the pandemic and according to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report (NCSIR), one in two Indian adults fell prey to hacking in the last 12 months. “The need of the hour is to secure not just computers, but also smartphones and all other devices that are connected to the internet and are tracking consumers’ activity and data on-the-go,” says Ritesh Chopra, director, Sales & Field Marketing, India & Saarc Countries, NortonLifeLock, in an interaction with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

Have you seen a shift in consumer behavior in protecting one’s online identity?
Yes, there has been a notable shift in this direction. According to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report almost 9 in 10 Indian adults have taken steps to help protect their online activities and personally identifiable information in the last year. Nearly three-quarters of whom (74%) say they have done so due to changes in lifestyles and work environment since the pandemic began. 76% Indian adults were proactively looking for better ways to do so.

Making passwords stronger is the most common step taken to safeguard personal data and our report shows that 43% Indian adults are already doing so. Meanwhile around 36% are limiting the information that they share on social media.

What new threats have emerged in the past two years, considering that we continue to use the home networks for office work?
While most organisations have robust cybersecurity policies, cyberattacks can still occur on home networks despite all precautions. Phishing scams have seen a massive increase during the nationwide lockdown, as have ransomware attacks, where people lose control of their devices and are then blackmailed to regain access. Spyware, or clickbait, embedded in news articles are on the rise too, and once the user clicks on such a link, the spyware gets downloaded in the background without their knowledge. It will copy the user’s passwords or credit card details when they use it. Deepfakes are another threat of concern that manipulates visual and/or audio content using deep-neural-nets-based machine learning methods to perform malicious actions or steal one’s identity.

With the recent cases of cyberattacks on notable brands, what measures should be taken by organisations and governments to ensure the protection of consumer data?
The government has suggested several measures to address the increase in cybercrime by strengthening cyber security. The key is to ensure strict and holistic implementation of these measures. Organisations, on their part, should secure their networks and ensure that their employees use secured devices. Consumers, meanwhile, should make efforts to keep an eye on the cyber threat landscape and be wary of cyber attacks—especially phishing— that could target their personal data when they are connected to any unsecured network. If they are logged on to a public network or a private, unsecured Wi-Fi connection, it is highly recommended to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect the privacy and safety of their browsing activity.

What proactive measures can consumers take to ensure that their online identity is safe and there is a clear division of network being used for personal use or official?
It is essential to have a clear division of network when it comes to personal and official use. Moreover, there are some basic measures that consumers can adopt to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks:

  • Speak to your employer to understand the new policies to help keep you, your co-workers, and the business safe
  • Always use the company’s tech toolbox, as it is likely to include firewall and antivirus protection, along with security features like VPN and two-factor authentication
  • Beware of coronavirus-themed phishing emails used by cybercriminals. Immediately report such phishing attempts to your employer
  • Keep your VPN turned on, as it provides a secure link between employees and businesses by encrypting data. A VPN helps keep information secure from cybercriminals and competitors.

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